Laura Washington: Foxx says Chicago needs “a strategy’

SHARE Laura Washington: Foxx says Chicago needs “a strategy’

Demonstrators calling for an end to gun violence in a downtown Chicago march on Dec. 31, 2015. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel is not going to end Chicago’s heinous violence.

Well before Emanuel stepped up to the hot cameras Thursday to unveil his new “blueprint” for a citywide anti-violence plan, Kim Foxx put that truth on the table.

“We have to stop making this just a, ‘the police will solve this’ piece,” she said. “Or ‘the mayor will do it’ or ‘there’s a piece of legislation.’”

Instead, “we have to work collaboratively,” she told me over coffee a couple of weeks ago. “We need a strategy.”

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After a 2016 of more than 500 murders — so far — we must stop “bracing,” she added.

Bracing for the long hot summers. Bracing for the daily death count. Bracing for the body count. She talked about “this habit that we’ve gotten into in Chicago, of starting the clicker on Friday at 4, so that we can have (the weekend homicide numbers) ready on Monday at 8 o’clock.”

The Democratic nominee for Cook County state’s attorney spent her summer on learning tour. Since her March primary victory, she has been meeting with a plethora of community, religious, civic and political leaders, as well as law enforcement officials from around the nation.

She has talked to officials in Los Angeles and New York City, which have seen massive investments in social services for children. She heard about a city-run, $25 million gang reduction strategy in Los Angeles.

Foxx visited San Francisco, where she was shocked to learn that the district attorney and public defender meet monthly.

“I was, ‘like, really?  About what?’ ”

In Chicago, the agencies charged with battling crime and violence are “siloed,” she said.

Chicago has a lot to learn.

Foxx has a big stake in learning well. Unlike most Chicago elites, she is a child of the Cabrini-Green public housing community. She witnessed violence, crime and neglect. Family friends and classmates were shot, killed and jailed. She was, she said, sexually abused and assaulted.

It inspired her to build a career in law, government and politics, one dedicated to ending violence and repairing the criminal justice system. “I want people to always feel safe,” she said.

On Friday morning, we talked again on the phone. Did she attend Emanuel’s speech? No, she had a scheduling conflict.

Emanuel’s emotional appeal was bursting with plans to expand the police force, boost jobs programs and bolster mentoring efforts, and much more. Foxx said she is fine with that, but she’s still looking for a larger strategy.

“It would be nice if there were someone (at City Hall) whose job it is to coordinate anti-violence reduction efforts. Not just the police,” she suggested.

Chicago needs a city agency and a high-level operative “whose sole focus” is on anti-violence efforts, she said. Every government agency should be connected, along with civic groups, churches and the business community. That muscular network should collect data and research on the causes and effects of violence, crucial elements of success.

Foxx says she doesn’t want to be presumptuous. She is vying with the Republican nominee, Christopher E. K. Pfannkuche, in the Nov. 8 general election.  “Remember,” she said, “I am still on the ballot.”

She hasn’t won yet, but some voters are impatient. On social media, the complaints roll in, she said.

“People forget,” she said, “and something will happen, and they will say, ‘what about Foxx? She ain’t done nothin’ yet?’ ”

There’s still a lot to learn.

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